Course placement : its impact in a Midwestern region school district on achievement, curriculum, instructional strategies, expectations, and perceptions of the program
A school district in the Midwestern region uses a tracking system for sorting students into a grade-level or college preparatory track at the junior high and high school levels. This system has been in place for over sixty years. This is an ineffective method of educating students, particularly for those students in lower track classes. Critical pedagogy, the study of helping people to become free of oppression, and interest-convergence, which advocates that change is implemented when it benefits both groups, were used to study this practice. Focus groups, interviews, and observations of teachers occurred to help answer the following research questions: What impact do various instructional strategies and approaches have on achievement? How does course placement affect instructional behavior and course approaches? What types of instructional practices are being utilized in classroom instruction for both grade-level and college preparatory classes; do they differ and are they equitable? The findings supported the literature review. Students in grade-level classes are not challenged as much as their college preparatory peers, nor do they receive an equitable education in terms of the instructional practices utilized in the classes. Furthermore, all teachers expressed a desire to blend the classes to help improve discipline, provide role models for students, and to increase academic achievement. It is the recommendation of the researcher that the school district consider doing away with the tracking system as it is an ineffective means of educating the district's students.